Mark’s EU Week for Transport 
Despite wall to wall analysis of the historic UK election result over the past few days, few have discussed what does Boris Johnson’s 80 seat majority mean for Brexit & transport?

I think there are four things that are pretty much certain now. Four questions we as an industry need to answer. And one for the new Government.

Firstly, the UK Parliament will rubber stamp the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration unamended, and the UK will leave the EU on 31 January. Then a transition period will apply where the transport industry in the UK will continue to be subject to EU law. There will also be ‘dynamic alignment’, so new EU laws will apply too. And the UK will still be bound by rulings of the ECJ.  The questions we need to answer are how we can influence new EU laws when we no longer have EU institutional representation and how can we influence a future trade deal?

Secondly, a no-deal Brexit could still occur, by the end of December next year. And for the time being we need to prepare accordingly. So the era of cliff-edges and crunch weeks is unfortunately not over. Nor is the much-needed certainty we need, at least until the Government either agrees a super fast deal by the end of the year or, more likely in my opinion, the UK seeks an extension to the transition period by the end of June, which is the deadline for such a request. The question for industry is: what option do we support?

Thirdly, we need to continue to project our interests internationally, be it at the IMO, ICAO or COP. COP26 will be a major challenge and opportunity for the UK, with Glasgow hosting the event in October 2020. The question for industry is how we can best achieve this, particularly working with our EU friends.

Fourthly, the years of Brexit uncertainty have left the UK’s reputation battered and bruised. And that’s not just politically here in Brussels, but across the EU and beyond, and that unfortunately has taken a toll on business and export potential.  The question for industry is how we help to rebuild that reputation.

And finally, a question for the Government, which will help industry answer all four of the above questions. A question Government has put off for too long, perhaps understandably so given the hung Parliament and the toxic nature of the Brexit debate: how closely aligned do we want to be with existing and future EU regulations in a future partnership? The degree of regulatory alignment will, more than anything else, determine the nature of the access we can negotiate with the EU for transport goods and services, and indeed everything else.

With a solid working majority for the next five years, I rather suspect the Prime Minister will answer that question in a way that will put our country’s economic interests first, and declare that close regulatory alignment is the basis upon which we’ll negotiate a future partnership with the EU.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts, and are planning a series of events in 2020 to address these questions. This is our last News & Views of 2019, it’s been a hectic year and we hope you have enjoyed following its twists and turns with us. We expect 2020 to be even busier on both the Brexit and Brussels fronts, so we will see you in January for further News & Views on Europe and transport.

This week’s song of the week, is North and South by The Clash.

1. The Conservative Party wins big majority, EU breathes a sigh of relief
Last Thursday saw the Conservative Party and Boris Johnson win a strong governing majority, a size that not many were predicting heading into the final week of campaigning. The result was welcomed by EU leaders who, after 3 and a half years of back and forth on Brexit with not much to show for it, were relieved with the prospect of something, for better or worse, happening now that Boris Johnson had a strong majority. The EU’s response should not surprise many as they have an ambitious legislative agenda in store for 2020 and remain displeased with Brexit clogging up the end of the Juncker Commission’s mandate and, thus far, the beginning of von der Leyen’s Commission mandate. The expectation from Brussels is that the UK Parliament will now be in a position to agree to the Withdrawal Agreement, as early as this week, and this will commence a timetable for ratification by the European Parliament at one of their two Plenary sessions in January. 

2. European Green Deal published
The European Green Deal Communication was published last week by the European Commission as a new growth strategy that aims to transform the EU into a fair and prosperous society, with a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy where there are no net emissions of GHG in 2050 and where economic growth is decoupled from resource use. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Executive Vice President for a European Green Deal Frans Timmermans presented it to the European Parliament Plenary.

In order to deliver the European Green Deal, a set of deeply transformative policies will be put into place – the most relevant for the transport sector being:

Action Indicative timetable
Climate ambition
Proposal on a European ‘Climate Law’ enshrining the 2050 climate neutrality objective March 2020
Comprehensive plan to increase the EU2030 climate target to at least 50% and towards 55% in a responsible way Summer 2020
Proposal for a revision of the Energy Taxation Directive June 2021
Revisions of relevant legislative measures to deliver on the increased climate ambition: CO2 Emissions performance standards for cars and vans June 2021
New EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change 2020/2021
Clean, affordable and secure energy
Assessment of the final National Energy and Climate Plans June 2020
Sustainable and smart mobility
Strategy for sustainable and smart mobility 2020
Funding call to support the deployment of public recharging and refuelling points as part of alternative fuel infrastructure From 2020
Assessment of legislation options to boost the production and supply of sustainable alternative fuels for the different transport modes From 2020
Revised proposal for a Directive on Combined Transport 2021
Review of the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive and the Trans European Network – Transport (Ten-T) Regulation 2021
Initiatives to increase and better manage the capacity of railways and inland waterways From 2021
Proposal for more stringent air pollutant emissions standards for combustion-engine vehicles 2021

3. Government prepares shake-up of government machine
Following their strong electoral victory, according to the Financial Times, the Conservative government intends to create a powerful new business department — absorbing the international trade department — to secure inward investment for the UK’s poorer regions and strike trade deals across the world, according to officials briefed on his proposals. Rishi Sunak, Treasury chief secretary, is seen in Whitehall as a potential head of the new economic super-ministry, which might also take responsibility for broadband and artificial intelligence from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. The article also reported that the Government was also looking to recreate an energy and climate change department, and the Foreign Office absorbing the international development department to align overseas aid with broader diplomatic goals. On the Brexit front, the Department for Exiting the EU is due to be wound up. Negotiations on a future UK-EU relationship are expected to be co-ordinated from the Cabinet Office, with Michael Gove, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, expected to take charge.

4. Road safety must be a top priority for new Transport Commissioner
UKTiE Coordinator Mark Watts’ new blog and vlog on why road safety needs to be a top priority for new Transport Commissioner, Adina Valean. Mark writes that in Europe over 25,000 people are killed every year in road traffic crashes, it’s the equivalent of a jumbo jet a week crashing. We do not put up with it in aviation, so why do we tolerate it on the roads?

5. UKTiE has also put together the latest timetable for Brexit. We will keep this up to date as the process develops:

  • 29 March 2017 – A50 triggered.
  • 5 April 2017 – European Parliament adopted Brexit guidelines.
  • 22 May 2017 – Brexit negotiating directives approved by Council.
  • 19 June 2017 –  Negotiations formally began.
  • 23 March 2018– European Council agreed guidelines on the future trading relationship.
  • 23-26 May 2019 – European Parliament election.
  • 12 December 2019  – UK General Election.
  • 16 December 2019 – Next ENVI Committee Meeting
  • 20-21 January 2020 – Next TRAN Committee Meeting
  • 31 January 2020 – The UK will formally leave the EU. (tbc)
  • 31 December 2020 – End of Transition Period (tbc).
Mark Watts
UK transport in Europe (UKTiE)

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